Why Focal Lenght doesn't matter - A Prime Lens Travel Challenge at Berlin

Started Oct 22, 2017 | Discussions thread
Rod McD Veteran Member • Posts: 6,343
Re: Why Focal Lenght doesn't matter - A Prime Lens Travel Challenge at Berlin
2

Truman Prevatt wrote:

Rod McD wrote:

Hi,

You said your title was a bit provocative, so I'll respond to the challenge....... Your shots all look great. But they do look standard lens. Because they were. And there's nothing wrong with that.

But back to FL........ I've tried the one prime challenge. Several times. But I have in the end missed shots because I couldn't go wider or longer. And later, I've regretted the absence of variation in FOV from that trip. The diversity makes revisiting those places through the images more interesting. These days I travel with either a few primes or a wide-to-short-tele zoom because I've just accepted that the one prime pathway isn't for me. So, FL matters. To meof course - but it's all personal anyway.

I think it gets down to why you have a camera with you. I think it gets down to the difference between classic "street photography" and "travel photography" which people often get confused but they are vastly different. If your goal is to document a trip so you can look back and recall the trip (travel photography) getting every shot you want is important. If you goal is to tell a story or express an emotion using scenes on the street - pretty much independent of which street - then finding the scene that can allow you to tell your story is paramount. In an outing for travel photography one wants to come back with images. In an outing for street photography one wants to come back with the one iconic image.

Agreed. I'm not too sure about one iconic image, but certainly just enough to support the story being told. I guess we're lucky if any of our images ever become iconic. It hasn't happened to me!

I agree with you that working with one prime is an education. But having got the education, why then limit yourself to one prime? You'll also read countless posts where people will tell you that zooms don't provide the education that primes do and make photographers lazy. They're probably right sometimes. But again, having got the education, you don't forget it when you use a zoom either.

For years I only shot with 1 prime on my M4 - the wonderful 50 "cron." I then added a 35 "crone" and used that exclusively for a few years. I only had two lenses for my Mamiya 645 and one lens for my Mamiya RB67 (127 mm) and two lenses from my 4x5 (but only used the 210mm). I never felt a loss with sometime's having to walk away because I would have to make a compromise on a shot.

Yup. I used a Pentax 67 with 55 & 90 and a 4X5" with 90 &150.

But I suspect that if my goal was to document a trip I would have more willing to compromise on a zoom. The reason I say compromise is zooms tend to be large, heavy and one to two stops slower than primes with image quality inferior to a good prime at the given focal length.

We're slightly off topic but I think zooms are excellent these days - meaning their IQ at their admittedly slower apertures is excellent. My 55-200 may not be quite as a good as a contemporary Fuji prime like the 90, but though slower, it's as sharp as my film-era 90, 100's and 135's at any print size I've tried them. The difference in resolution is so incremental that it has ceased to be a deciding factor.  Other differences may still be important. The obvious one is speed.  OTOH, I think zooms really become valuable when you can't change position. Then an image from a zoom is often far better than a cropped one from a prime. Their other advantage is when you can't carry a large kit, but that's about logistics, not photography. That's often important for travel as you've observed below.

Cheers, Rod

However, they do have uses for travel photography.

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Truman
www.pbase.com/tprevatt

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